Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—A double suicide bombing rocked the Lebanese city of Sidon on Sunday, the first time suicide bombers have targeted the Lebanese military.
One soldier was killed and two others wounded as a result, according to the Lebanese authorities. The four alleged attackers were also killed.
The incidents took place at checkpoints at the Awwali and Majdelyoun areas of the city.
The Lebanese authorities also announced that two rockets were found abandoned at a garbage dump south of the city, which was the scene of fighting between the Lebanese armed forces and followers of Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir earlier this year.
According to statements issued by the Lebanese military, three men approached the military checkpoint at Awwali on Sunday night. When challenged by troops manning the checkpoint, one brandished a hand grenade which detonated after the soldiers opened fire, killing one of the attackers and wounding two soldiers.
A second incident took place less than an hour later at Majdalyoun, when an SUV containing another three men was stopped at another checkpoint.
Lebanese authorities say one of the passengers in the vehicle, identified as a Palestinian named Bahaeddine Al-Sayyed, attacked and killed a Lebanese army sergeant and himself with a grenade.
Soldiers then returned fire, killing the other two men in the SUV, identified as Mohammad Jamil Zarif and Ibrahim Al-Mir, both Lebanese nationals.
The authorities say a search of the vehicle found several explosive devices and the report noted that military police have now taken over investigations into the attacks under the supervision of the military court.
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told the Voice of Lebanon radio station that the Lebanese security forces had obtained intelligence from around 10 days ago suggesting that military checkpoints in the south would be targeted for attack.
With regards to possible links between the Sidon attacks and car bombings potentially planned for the holiday period, the minister said: “This is just intelligence and investigations have not revealed any results.”
Responding to fears that churches would be targeted during the holiday period, Charbel stressed that the security forces were “monitoring the situation” and would be pursuing anyone they believe would be involved.
Prime Minister designate Tammam Salam called for swift action in response to the attacks.
He said that those who targeted the army were “just a group of misled and irresponsible people.”